Queensland’s measures to support implementation of the Modern Homes standards

The Modern Homes standards have been implemented through a phased approach, with the:

  • Livable Housing Design Standard commencing on 1 October 2023
  • new residential energy efficiency requirements begining on 1 May 2024.

These standards reflect community expectations that modern homes are comfortable, functional and adaptive to our changing needs.

To ensure Queensland’s effective implementation of the NCC 2022, including the Modern Homes standards, transitional measures and exemptions are included in the Queensland Development Code (QDC):

Livable housing design

The new NCC 2022 Livable Housing Design Standard (LHDS) means new houses and units are designed with accessibility features, such as slightly wider doorways and corridors, one shower and toilet with step-free entry, and reinforced bathroom and toilet walls to enable future installation of handrails.

These measures will have a significant impact on householders as they move through the stages of life, whether it be young families, seniors, or someone with a disability.

To support industry’s transition to the LDHS and give industry time to adjust, a new QDC 4.5 provides:

  • an 18-month exemption (until 31 March 2025) from the LHDS for narrow lots (frontage of 12.5 metres or less) and small pre-built houses (under 55 square metres in size)
  • clarification that repairs and maintenance do not automatically trigger a requirement to meet the LHDS
  • clarification about when major renovations will need to comply with the LHDS
  • alternative, cost-effective compliance pathways for step-free showers and grading to floor wastes in wet areas
  • flexibility around the location of an accessible toilet when there is no habitable room/s on the entry level.

The 18-month exemption period for narrow lots and small pre-built houses allows the continued delivery of these lots and houses, while promoting creative and innovative ways to build more diverse and affordable housing.

Other provisions include alternative lower cost compliance options for a step-free shower.

For repairs and maintenance, QDC 4.5 clarifies that the building work standards that apply to work, will be the same standards that applied before the repair or maintenance work was undertaken (like-for-like).

Bathroom and toilet renovations will not have to comply with the LHDS where it is not reasonable or practical. For example, if wall framing is not exposed during the renovation, reinforcement does not need to be installed.

If the entry level toilet exemption applies, an accessible toilet must be installed on the first level with a habitable room.

Grading to non-mandatory floor wastes

The NCC 2022 housing provisions now require all floors to be graded to a floor waste installed in a wet area such as a bathroom or laundry. This does not include a kitchen.

Previously, the NCC 2022 only required floor wastes to be installed and floors to be graded in showers, rooms with urinals and in apartments where water from one unit could cause damage to another unit.

The requirement for grading of floors to all floor wastes in wet areas will reduce pooling on bathroom floors and prevent water flowing out of wet areas and causing damage to the rest of the building.

QDC 4.5 provides less expensive alternative compliance options for the grading of floors to non-mandatory floor wastes (i.e. where there is no requirement to install a floor waste). These include:

  • adopting gradients provided by AS 3740:2021 Waterproofing of domestic wet areas
  • allowing installation of a linear strip drain or weir at each entrance to the room
  • ensuring water from a fixture cannot flow out of a wet area without passing over a graded area of a floor.

The additional compliance solutions allow industry to select a more appropriate and cost-effective grading to floor waste option that accommodates the homeowner’s budget, aesthetic preferences and is suitable for the specific wet area.

The NCC 2022 grading of floor-to-floor wastes provisions commenced on 1 May 2023. The parts of QDC 4.5 relevant to grading to floor wastes requirements commenced on 22 September 2023.

Residential energy efficiency

The NCC 2022 residential energy efficiency provisions make important changes that enable more comfortable temperatures in new homes year round, save costs by using less energy to keep homes cool, and tackle climate change by reducing emissions.

To align Queensland with the NCC residential energy efficiency requirements, QDC 4.1 has been updated to:

  • remove Queensland’s optional credit for installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system
  • remove the ability to use a 2009 version glazing calculator, in favour of the current calculator
  • require compliance with the NCC 2022 star rating requirements in new houses and units.

QDC 4.1 retains the optional one-star credit for outdoor living areas for new houses and expands it state-wide for new apartment buildings. This optional credit recognises Queensland’s unique outdoor housing design and lifestyle.

Guidance material

Generally, building work in Queensland must comply with the building assessment provisions (standards) that applied when a building development application is approved.

However, section 37 of the Building Act 1975 enables a building certifier, in certain circumstances, to apply the previous building assessment provisions. These circumstances include:

  • if lawful building work has started before a new requirement commences
  • a building development approval was given before a new requirement starts
  • a building development application is made before the new requirement starts, and the application is not decided before the amendment commences
  • planning for carrying out the work started before a building assessment provision is amended and the building certifier for the building development approval certifies in writing that all the following conditions have been met
  • substantial progress has been made on the design of the building, or the design was completed before the amendment
  • the design would need to be changed to comply with the amended provision
  • the changes needed are not minor changes, having regard to the amendment and the nature of the building work.

A new guideline (PDF, 241.36 KB) was published to assist building certifiers in applying this transitional provision.

New homes that were already significantly designed or where construction had commenced prior to the introduction of the new livable housing design and residential energy efficiency standards on 1 October 2023 and 1 May 2024 respectively, were not impacted by these changes.

A new non-mandatory Form 77 Variation to building assessment provisions is available to assist building certifiers to document decisions made under section 37 of the Building Act 1975.

Additional resources

Livable housing

Residential Energy efficiency